QuSoft research center for quantum software launched

Today QuSoft, the first research center dedicated to quantum software, is launched. It is a joint initiative of CWI, UvA and VU, and will be located at Amsterdam Science Park. QuSoft complements the research conducted by QuTech, which focuses on the development of quantum hardware, and thus strengthens the position of Amsterdam and the Netherlands in world-class quantum information research.

QuSoft started life as the brainchild of Harry Buhrman, Algorithms and Complexity Group Leader at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) and Professor of Computer Science at University of Amsterdam (UvA). He and Kareljan Schoutens, Professor of Theoretical Physics at UvA, will constitute the directorate of the new center that builds on these institutions’ excellent track record in quantum computing and quantum information. Together they will lead its mission to develop new protocols, algorithms and applications that can be run on small and medium-sized prototypes of a quantum computer.

The main focus of QuSoft will be on the development of quantum software, which requires fundamentally different techniques and approaches from those to develop conventional software because of the counter-intuitive quantum mechanical properties of the quantum computer such as superposition, interference and entanglement. A fundamental driving research question is to develop software and find applications that exploit the extraordinary power of quantum computers.

Research fields

QuSoft will specifically target the research fields of few-qubit applications, quantum testing and debugging, and quantum architectures. In addition, the center will cover the related field of quantum cryptography. Since most modern-day cryptographic codes can be trivially broken as soon as a working quantum computer becomes available, the development of new quantum cryptographic protocols and applications is of utmost importance to secure our economic infrastructure.

Harry Buhrman: “The launch of the QuSoft research center is great news and reinforces Amsterdam’s center-stage position in this important research area. It allows us to scale up our work on applications and software designed to run on the kind of quantum computer hardware that seems to be just around the corner. Investment in the science and development of quantum software is vital, as at present no-one really fully understands how to properly exploit these special opportunities quantum hardware will bring.”

Structural funding

In addition to investments by CWI and VU, QuSoft receives structural funding through UvA’s research priority area Quantum Matter and Quantum Information (QM&QI), a joint effort between four research institutes of the Faculty of Science. The new center will be hosted by CWI, located at Amsterdam Science Park. The current activities of the existing QuSoft research teams are already well embedded within CWI and UvA. All in all, the center aims to grow to 35 to 40 researchers and will be home to four research groups, each with numerous PhD students and postdocs. For the VU, participation in QuSoft brings the opportunity to join the important and exciting research field of quantum software and its applications.

Kareljan Schoutens: “The actual design of software and hardware for quantum ICT leads to a range of fundamental questions that can only be addressed by a collaboration across various disciplines. What makes QM&QI special is that within this research priority area physicists, computer scientists and mathematicians jointly explore how quantum principles enable faster computation and better information security, and which quantum systems are best suited to these applications. We are delighted that the additional funding allows us to firmly set up and advance one of our research spear heads, the development of quantum software, in a new research center.”

The QuSoft initiative has been warmly welcomed internationally and enjoys strong support from the European and North American quantum computing communities. The structural funding of QuSoft allows the existing ties with dedicated quantum computing research institutes worldwide and researchers from leading computer industry partners, including Google, Microsoft and ID Quantique, to be further strengthened and to be put on a sustainable footing.

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